In the world of college basketball announcing, there are few figures as polarizing as Bill Walton – you either love him or hate him. Walton usually says whatever is on his mind, sometimes with no regard for his employer. That was never more evident than on Thursday night.
Walton was calling the Oregon vs. Washington game for the PAC-12 Tournament and made references to multiple ESPN employees – Ray Lewis and Bill Simmons – that could not have thrilled the big wigs at the Worldwide Leader.
First, Walton made a Ray Lewis “limo” joke, saying “I was way in the back along with Ray Lewis, and it was so much fun.” For reference, one witness testified during Lewis’ murder trial that she rode in a limo with the football star and saw someone from his entourage dump a bag – presumably with Lewis’ clothes from that night – in the trash at a fast food restaurant.
Walton later made reference to Bill Simmons being banned from Twitter for three days by ESPN, saying “they suspended Bill Simmons, anything is possible.”
The real question now is whether Walton himself will be punished. It’s one thing to make fun of others in the industry, so long as you work for a different company yourself. But Walton went after two current employees at ESPN, which can’t bode well for his announcing future. Will he be suspended as well?